Germany, Yad Vashem mark 80 years since Kristallnacht

November 11, 2018 by JNS
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The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem held a memorial service and seminar on Nov. 8 to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hall of Names during her visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on October 4, 2018. Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL

The event, a joint initiative with the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin, was attended by the German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer.

Speaking at the event, David Boaz, president of the Association of Central European Origin, said “we mark 80 years to the pogrom, a series of riots that included the destruction and burning of synagogues, the looting of Jewish stores, a murderous campaign and the internment of tens of thousands [of people] in concentration camps. The Nazis called it ‘Kristallnacht.’ As we do every year, we have convened at Yad Vashem for a memorial rally and a day of study, lest we forget the events and lest the events forgotten.”

As part of the day of study, Professor Moshe Zimmermann delivered a lecture on the subject of “Exclusion, Refugeedom and Pogrom: 80 Years Later.”

Television presenter David Witzthum moderated a panel on the subject of “echoes of the pogrom during the pogrom and in modern memory.”

The day commenced with a special memorial ceremony in the museum’s Hall of Remembrance and a rally in the auditorium.

During the ceremony, Professor Charlie Greenbaum, who witnessed the pogrom, lit one of the beacons. Elisheva Ben Yashar, whose parents moved to Israel with her immediately after the pogrom when she was still a baby, laid a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance.

In Germany, eight decades after Kristallnacht, or the “Night of the Broken Glass,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned about modern-day racism.

“Today, we are living once again in a time of far-reaching change,” she said at a Berlin synagogue. “In such times, there is always a particularly great danger of those who react with supposedly simple answers gaining support.”

“We are commemorating today with the promise that we will set ourselves strongly against attacks on our open and plural society,” she said. “We are commemorating in the knowledge that watching as lines are crossed and crimes are committed ultimately means going along with them.”

Merkel, dressed in black, noted that “Jewish life is blossoming again in Germany—an unexpected gift to us after the Shoah. But we are also witnessing a worrying anti-Semitism that threatens Jewish life in our country.”

On Nov. 9, 1938, Jews were terrorized in Germany and Austria as hundreds of synagogues and thousands of Jewish businesses were burned down. At least 91 people were murdered—some dragged by their beards into the street—and approximately 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and deported to concentration camps.


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